Intellectual Elites and the Franchise for Representative Bodies on Local, Regional and State Levels in Cisleithania 1848–1914
What are intellectual elites? The question is not easily answered. Many scholars in numerous books and articles have tried to establish a definition of this phenomenon, the diversity of which poses almost insurmountable difficulties.1 However, for the purpose of the particular theme to be treated here, we are in the fortunate position to be able to fall back to a definition already worked out in the mid-nineteenth century. When after the turmoil of the Revolution of 1848 and the abolition of the feudal administration in the Austrian Empire then Minister of the Interior Franz Count Stadion established communes as the lowest level of public administration in his Provisional Community Law,2 following the credo of early Liberalism he granted the right to vote for community representation to men and women of “property and education”.3 “Property” was measured by paying taxes—even if the sum was as small as possible. A later commentator pointedly remarked that “it is not the tax-payers who have the right to vote; in reality it is the plots of land, the houses, the trades that vote by the hands of their owners. The persons as such matter much less than the object of taxation”.4 In contrast, the person did matter in the case of so-called “honorary and intelligentsia voters” who were enfranchised alongside the “tax-voters”. Explicitly mentioned in the law were civil servants of the Crown, the state, the lands, and of public institutions, priests and pastors of all Christian...
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